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20 Exotic Pets That Are Real Life Pokémon

Updated on October 19, 2017
Melissa A Smith profile image

Melissa is an exotic pet owner, zoo attender, and plant-obsessed person and doesn't think there is anything wrong with that.

The concept of the TV show Pokémon is the ultimate exotic pet owning fantasy. In the world of Pokémon, you can collect numerous colorful species from the wild that you can train, keep comfortable in a tiny ball, and use to win battles. It is even acceptable to trade your Pokémon for better ones without anyone criticizing you for abandoning your pet. Ironically, while it perpetuates all the worst stereotypes about exotic pet owners, it has become immensely popular around the world.

Of course, it is only fiction. Despite this, most Pokémon are based off of real animals and many of these species are actual pets you can own. Here’s a list of some animals that inspired their Poké-forms that you can acquire in real life. Be sure, however, you have the space, knowledge, and financial means to care for them before you try to "collect them all."

1. Pikachu closely resembles a springhare

Pikachu, the main character of the Pokémon series, is some type of rodent and has been described as a few different animals. He is most often identified as a type of mouse or a pika (only the name matches), however, the electrified character has a lot more features in common with the springhare. The springhare is also known as a springhaas, which is an African rodent. The animal is bipedal like Pikachu, and has black-tipped ears, a long tail, and long, flat feet. Springhares are rare in the American pet trade, unfortunately.

Springhare
Springhare | Source

2. Toucannon

Toucannon is obviously a toucan, specifically a toco toucan. This species is one of the more common toucans kept in captivity, however, they can be priced as high as $15,000. Large toucans are more difficult to manage than their smaller counterparts, like the aracaris. It is recommended to keep them in large walk-in aviaries.

3. Fennekin

Fennekin is a fiery fennec fox, a very popular exotic pet mammal. These tiny foxes are in high demand for their compact size, cool factor, and visual appeal. Their price seems to increase every couple of years. They can be, however, rambunctious, very loud, and quite energetic. Unfortunately, foxes are not legal in all states.

4. Chatot

This avian musical species closely resembles the yellow-collared lovebird in coloration. They are very popular in aviculture. Considered to be "easy" pets with an inexpensive purchasing price, they can still easily live over a decade with proper care (15-20 years is not unheard of). The standard recommendation for lovebirds is that they should be kept in pairs (hence the name).

5. Luvdis is a kissing gourami

This character appears to be based off of the kissing gourami, a fish species that actually "kiss" each other (which can be seen in the above video), hence the name "Luvdisc" and its heart-shaped form. The fish have large lips that are actually used for fighting (so there is no love involved after all!). These freshwater fish are popular in aquariums.

6. Shellos is a nudibrach

Nudibranchs, also called sea slugs, are often brilliantly colored and have highly specialized diets in captivity. Some species are very hard to care for. The most commonly kept of these fragile animals is the lettuce nudibranch (Tridachia crispata) that feeds on algae. Other species need specific foods like small sea anemones, and are not recommended for novice aquarists.

7. Dwebble

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This precious Pokémon is a hermit crab with a rock instead of a shell. Many different types of hermit crabs exist in the pet trade, including terrestrial and fully aquatic species. The most popular group of land hermit crabs often quickly die in droves due to improper care. Most people don't know that they require a larger aquarium with high humidity, deep sand, climbing enrichment, and access to salt and freshwater water.

8. Sandshrew

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Sandshrew is not a shrew but an armadillo, most closely resembling the three-banded armadillo. They are not popular as pets but are occasionally available, priced around $2500-3000. This particular species is the only armadillo that can completely roll itself into a ball. They are not native to the U.S. and are different from what people in some states might see in their backyard.

9. Emolga

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This character is described as a rodent. It is, therefore, a flying squirrel instead of a sugar glider. These rodents are less popular than the latter, but still available. Specialized pouches are used when the squirrels are young to help the owner bond with them, which is very important.

10. Clauncher

Clauncher is a type of crustacean, perhaps a pistol shrimp. There are a few species of pistol shrimp kept in aquariums that have different coloration. They have a fascinating symbiotic relationship with specific species of goby. Since the shrimp is blind, the fish keeps watch over their cave while the shrimp does the housekeeping.

11. Unfezant

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As Pokémon is a Japanese creation, it makes sense that the national bird of Japan would appear as one of the characters. The Japanese pheasant, or green pheasant, has been introduced to the U.S. (Hawaii) and the populations are stable. They are uncommon as farmed birds and the populations that do exist have been hybridized with the common pheasant.

12. Victreebel

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While not really a "pet" so much as it is a plant, Victreebel is a pitcher plant, which is carnivorous. Pitcher plants can be grown in your home or even outdoors in some areas as they are actually native to the United States. Carnivorous plants evolved due to nutrient-poor soil and they prefer boggy conditions.

13. Wooper is based on the axolotl

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Wooper is the critically endangered (in the wild) Mexican salamander or axolotl. They are popular as pets and have relatively easy care. They like their water temperature cool (66 degrees F) and are slow moving.

14. Charmander

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Charmander looks like a few things, such as a dinosaur or some kind of lizard, but he also resembles the Eastern newt, a small orange amphibian. They can be found in the wild in some parts of the United States and are sometimes captured to be kept as pets. Three newts can be kept comfortably in a 10 gallon aquarium.

15. Horsea

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Seahorses are more advanced fish to care for, but easier if they are captive-bred specimens of certain species and, therefore, more readily accept frozen food. They like slow-moving water and something that they can "anchor" themselves to with their tails. They shouldn't be kept with other fish that can out-compete them for food because they eat slowly.

16. Articuno

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Articuno resembles a magpie jay, which is a bird not often kept as a pet. When they are kept as pets, they are housed in large walk-in aviaries. Magpie jays are corvids, which are a group of birds known for their high intelligence. Corvids need a lot of mental stimulation in captivity as well as room.

17. Heracross

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Bug keepers love rhinoceros beetles because of their tremendous size. Because of their outstanding size, they are a sought-after species and aren't regularly available. They are generally purchased as larvae, then they go on to live for a few months. Keepers also enjoy keeping them once they pass away as an impressive display specimen.

18. Scoliopede

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The name "Scoliopede" comes from the term scolopendra, which is the genus name for several large species of centipede. A few different species of centipedes can be kept as pets, including the Vietnamese giant centipede. They have an extremely painful bite and should never be free handled. They are also quick and can chew their way out of plastic tanks.

19. Goldeen

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Goldeen is a fancy goldfish (without the horn). Goldfish care is a little more complicated than traditionally thought. They can live much longer than people expect, exceeding 20 years with proper care. They also are generally not given as much space as they should have.

20. Heliolisk

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The frilled dragon is a very interesting lizard that also resembles that frilled dinosaur in the original Jurassic Park film. Frilled dragons are somewhat common in the reptile pet trade. They are arboreal and need a tall cage that also has a decent length to accommodate their size (2-3 for males, while females are 2/3rds that size).

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      AP 4 weeks ago

      While it's a common recommendation to keep lovebirds in pairs, it's also a bad one, one which stems from a time when birds were seen as pets to look at rather than to interact with, but one which lingers on no doubt in part thanks to pet stores who sell twice the birds that way. They absolutely do not need to be kept in pairs if you plan on interacting with them, and generally speaking the *best-case* scenario is that they bond to one another rather than you.

      The worst-case scenario, which is very common in lovebirds which weren't raised together, is that one lovebird will cause the death of the other lovebird. Among other things this may happen through outright murder (lovebirds and parrotlets are the only parrots I've known to engage in such behavior), though stress of birds who don't get along, or from a female who is too young to breed trying to lay eggs and getting egg bound.

      Lovebirds in pairs look absolutely adorable together, and if you just want a pet to look at, or otherwise don't mind if they end up not especially affectionate you *can* keep them in pairs, but if you do that you should try to get siblings from the same hatch, so that they already get along and won't try to breed.